Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Laws – Five Things Every Employer Should Know

Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Laws – Five Things Every Employer Should Know

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The Labour Standards Code (Code) sets out minimum employment standards that apply to most provincially regulated businesses in Nova Scotia. It also outlines rules specific to foreign worker recruitment and employment in Nova Scotia. Whether you’re a new business with a single employee, or a long-time corporation with hundreds of employees, the Code likely applies to you.

Adhering to the Code is not only a legal requirement, but good business practice. It contributes to a positive work culture which keeps employees engaged, productive and invested in the success of your company. It further saves an organization time, money and the resources that come with responding to labour standards complaints or audits, all of which require the employer to demonstrate compliance with the legislation.

As an employer facing all the demands and challenges that come with running a business, where do you start? How do you know if you’re complying with the Code requirements?

Below are five important topics to serve as a starting point and help you assess your knowledge.

Record Keeping / Pay Statements

Good record keeping is important for businesses, whether it’s for legal or tax reasons, or to help manage and grow your business. Did you know there are specific record-keeping requirements under the Code? Are you recording everything you need to in relation to your employees and the work they do? Are you maintaining these records for 36 months after the work is performed? Are you giving employees proper pay statements? See our Guide to the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code (the “Guide”) to learn more.


The Code provides for six holidays with pay: New Year’s Day (January 1st), Nova Scotia Heritage Day (third Monday of February), Good Friday (Friday preceding Easter Sunday), Canada Day (July 1st), Labour Day (first Monday of September) and Christmas Day (December 25th). A seventh holiday, Remembrance Day (November 11th), is covered under separate legislation with its own rules. More information on these holidays, including who qualifies for them, can be found in the Guide.

Protected Leaves

Every now and then an employee may need leave from work. Under the Code, eligible employees are provided job protection for certain types of leaves such as pregnancy and parental leaves, reservists leave, critically-ill adult care leave and domestic violence leave. A full list of the leaves and details on each (including the length of the leaves and employees’ eligibility, obligations and entitlements in relation to the leaves) can be found in the Guide.

Vacation Time and Pay

Vacation time is an important way for employees to take a break from work and recharge, which can result in increased productivity. The Code provides employees both vacation time (2 or 3 weeks) and vacation pay (4% or 6% of gross wages) based on their years of service. As an employer, are you providing your employees the appropriate time and pay when it comes to vacation? For instance, did you know vacation pay increases under the Code from 4% to 6% after employees complete their 7th year of service and vacation time increases from 2 to 3 weeks after employees complete their 8th year of service? See the Guide for more information.


Employers are responsible for ensuring that appropriate statutory deductions (like EI, CPP and income tax) are taken from employees’ pay and remitted to the government. But what about non-statutory deductions? Can you deduct for uniform costs or stolen product? Can you withhold employees’ pay if they quit abruptly? There are specific rules on making deductions from employees’ pay. Employers need to understand the rules to ensure they don’t make unlawful deductions − the Guide explains these rules.

Want More Information?

See the Guide to the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code:

Visit our website:

Call us: 1-888-315-0110 (toll free within NS) / 902-424-4311


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